The righteous will rejoice when they see revenge; they will bathe their feet in the blood of the wicked. (58:11)
Really? What a horrible image! I can’t imagine what terrible things this Psalmist experienced that caused him or her to rejoice in revenge.
To most moderns, revenge is an evil word – we prefer justice. Revenge is loaded with passion and anger; revenge is something we do to satisfy an emotional need to get back at someone who wronged us.
The better word is “justice.” Justice is fair, balanced, and unbiased. Justice harbors no anger. In fact, justice can and should be mixed with mercy. Justice is something that should be dealt out only reluctantly.
What is wrong with the speaker in this Psalm? What trauma did he or she endure in life? Apparently, this writer has been badly abused and understandably sees the people who abused him or her as irrevocably evil. The Psalmist wants so badly to believe in a just God, but only by personally witnessing the suffering of the wicked.
This kind of faith in God is doomed. If you only believe in a God who visibly punishes, you are likely to go through life unsatisfied and angry. Rather, I suggest envisioning God as compassionate, giving every person the chance to transform.
Virtually every person who has done wrong as the potential to change. If human beings didn’t have the free will to be evil and then turn away from their evil nature and embrace goodness, they were never good to begin with. The only way to truly be good is to know that one could be evil, and make the choice not to.
God’s compassion understands that the person who bullied you in grade school may very well have been acting out of a behavior learned at home. The person who behaves badly at work, criticizing, condemning, complaining, taking without giving, may very well have been taught a twisted sense of principles from his or her parents. We do well to learn God’s compassion and act with it in our own lives. Don’t embrace the anger of this Psalmist – embrace the compassion of God instead!